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β€œIn nations where the dogma of popular sovereignty reigns, each individual constitutes an equal share of the sovereign and participates equally in the government of the state. Thus each individual is supposed to be as enlightened, as virtuous, and as strong as every other individual. Why, then does the individual obey society, and what are the natural limits of his obedience? He obeys society, not because he is inferior to those who rule it, or less capable of governing himself than anyone else, but because union with his fellow men seems useful to him, and because he knows that such union cannot exist without a regulatory power. In everything to do with the duties of citizens to one another, he has therefore become subject. In everything that regards himself alone, he remains master. He is free and owes an account of his actions only to God. Whence this maxim: the individual is the best as well as the only judge of his own interest, and society has the right to direct his actions only when it feels injured by his activities or when it requires his cooperation.” – Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (trans. Arthur Goldhammer)

Published inPolitics & LawThe American Constitution

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